Friday, June 10, 2011

The Very Best Books You've Already Read

On a recent visit to the high school from which I graduated (now, nearly half a decade ago) I reminisced with a former English teacher of mine about the best books assigned in High School English classes. He favored The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien; a collection of interconnected stories chronicling the experiences of a platoon of American soldiers during the Vietnam War (characterized by the often visceral, graphic images put forth by the author). While I appreciated the effortless imagery devised by O'Brien even as a high school sophomore, my tastes tended more towards Austen and Forster at the time. I recounted to him the story of one winter break during which I spent nearly every hour of the day curled up in a dilapidated arm chair next to a space heater with a cup of hot cocoa and a blanket, totally immersed in Pride and Prejudice. It was the first period novel I ever read and it kicked off a marathon which included several of Austen's other books as well as novels by the Bronte sisters and Forster's A Room With a View. It was in High School that my love of reading really flourished and my tastes evolved into something resembling what they are today. Adolescence is often a time of self-discovery, and discovering one's self as a reader is one of many revelations a person might have during that phase of his or her life.

Personally, I find reminiscing on, or even rereading the books which spoke to me at such a pivotal time in my life very grounding, as if i were being drawn back to a simpler time.

Here are some great summer books you might want to reread (and if you haven't read them before, get on it--they're classics!).


Linda K. said...

I'm a big fan of rereading old favorites. "Gone with the Wind" is probably my most frequently reread book. I was originally drawn to it when my mom told me that her mom wouldn't let her read it or see the movie when she was a kid because it was too "adult" for a teenager. Luckily my mom never restricted my reading. Thanks Mom!

(I would love to confer with my old English teachers but I think most of them have gone to that big classroom in the beyond by now.)

Thanks for a fun blog! I wonder what books written today people will want to reread 50 years from now. And what format will it be in?!

Cathy F. said...

I always re-read books before a book discussion, and enjoy paying attention to details I missed the first time. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner is a title that I have re-read without the pressure of a looming book discussion. It is sweetly melancholy as it tracks the lives of two young couples from early adulthood to their old age.

Gus said...

In junior-year high school English (way back in nineteen hundred and eighty seven, yikes), I had to read "The Day of the Jackal", a thriller by Frederick Forsyth about a seemingly-untraceable international assassin's plot to kill French president Charles De Gaulle. I hated it. Didn't even finish it, failed the book report.

A few years later I picked it up again and loved it! It's brilliant and riveting. I've re-read it several times, as well as others of Forsyth's works.

Anything by James Thurber is also worth re-reading often- mostly funny but sometimes quite touching.

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